Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I know, I know. If there's a dog-house for bad bloggers, I'm in it. I've thought about shutting down the blog, but I'm reluctant to give up on it completely... so for now, I suspect I'll stay a fairweather blogger!

I do, however, want to talk about craft. As we're in Spain for Christmas, I took delivery of some pressies early while I was in the UK. My haul included the unutterably gorgeous sewing basket above from Cath Kidston (before you get excited, she didn't give me the present personally, though I'm sure she'd be a super-smashing chum. My parents played Santa this time).

There was a time when getting excited about a sewing box would be a worrying sign, but I will have you know that crafts are now super-cool. I embarked on my crafting odyssey as research for Secret Shopper 3 (coming to a store near you in just over a year's time, if I can stop myself oohing and aahing over sewing boxes). And, before long, I was hooked (I am proud of myself for avoiding the obvious crochet/yarn joke there).

I mean, seriously, who could resist the glorious coloured cottons? Sorry, flosses. Or should that be floss? That's what proper embroiders call it. And as I now have a box full of floss, I must be approaching the status of a proper embroider, surely?

I have a particular penchant for the floss in the centre of this picture, the one with so many lovely ice-cream shades on a single length. I haven't yet found out the term for multi-coloured floss, but it's swirly and gorgeous and looks so pretty. Funny - I've never been particularly girly when it comes to shoes and jewellery and yet when I went to the haberdashery department at John Lewis the other day, I almost passed out with pleasure.
There are some truly wonderful craft blogs and sites out there - from the Make Lounge, where I did a crochet course with the wonderful Catherine Hirst, to the amazing Sublime Stitching site (check out the Black Apple patterns) and individual designers like Follow the White Bunny. Oh, and I could waste weeks on Feeling Stitchy.
I've been wondering why it's such a treat to do something crafty, even though it's a struggle at times. I've got a few theories - the fact that it takes approximately four thousand times as long to write a novel as it does to make an amigurumi mouse. Or the fact you can crochet a scarf while watching Spooks, but if you try to write chick lit while watching Spooks you will find yourself throwing in random explosions and killing off your heroine in chapter four.
Acutally, maybe you can't crochet while watching Spooks. During a particularly tense moment, I managed to turn the scarf above (aren't the colours lovely ?) round half way through a row and then added another wonky half row of crochet, so it all went wrong and I had to unpick about half of the length of the scarf, because I didn't notice the error until I'd done several hours more work.
What really surprised me as I unraveled the yarn, was how fab it felt to tug at the stitches and then have the chance to re-do it, but better. If you're a writer, I expect you'll see where I'm going with this - really, crochet has more in common with editing than I could ever have guessed. My wonky scarf was the first draft. If only I could learn to enjoy unpicking my words with quite so much relish, I would be a very happy novelist.
Sometimes writing seems so mystical, and the 'muse' seems utterly illusive. So I find the crochet comparison rather comforting. Yarn exists to be shaped - the more you work at your craft and try new things and above all, the more you practise, the better the end result will be.
So now I will picture my imagination as a piece of gorgeous, soft, malleable yarn. OK, sometimes it gets tangled and messy and knotted. And sometimes I have to go right back to the start. But if I keep working, I can make something rather nice with it.
Happy Christmas!